Posted: February 12, 2010
As a writer, I don’t see the logic in listing my credits. I’m not a place, like a hotel with a great view and a fantastic restaurant. I’m a person, like any other – a lot like you. And, I’m a writer, so I’m going to tell you a story.
Meet Julie Jordan, born Julia Crowell, 1948
My father, now 89 years old, was a school teacher/reading specialist when I was little. I was about four years old during story-time one night, I stopped him to ask him why he said the same thing every time he read that story to me. That night, he started teaching me to read. It began a life-long love affair between me and books – for that, I am grateful.
In junior high, I wrote stories that entertained my classmates and others – including one teacher. Unfortunately, none survived that they might be published later.
In high school, one English assignment was to write my autobiography. When the teacher gave the class the assignment, she told us the chapter names but beyond that, we were free to write whatever we wanted. My mother (who is also still going strong at age 89), a registered genealogist, provided me with my family tree. In the chapter entitled ‘Future Plans,’ near the top of my list was being a published writer. That hasn’t happened yet. Now, in my 60s, I think it’s about time . . .
In college, one professor told me I “couldn’t write my way out of a paper bag.” That was discouraging, needless to say, coming from a professor. It may have kept me from my pursuing my dream for many years. If I had that to do over again, I would never have let him stop me from writing – but, he was an authority figure. He knew better than I and since he said I was a bad writer, it had to be true. Today, I believe he was very wrong about me – and maybe wasn’t so smart himself!
In 1967, I met and, a year later, married my husband, Pete via ‘ham radio.’ He was, then, WA1AXK. When I got my license, I became WA1IVN. When Pete got his ‘Extra Class License’ he changed his call sign to K1PJ. While I grew up in Connecticut, he was from Massachusetts, so I moved there. My writing then was primarily letters to folks back home.
These days, my mother and I exchange long emails on the internet. She spends most of her time on Facebook, where she has hundreds of friends from around the world. She has, over the years authored or co-authored several non-fiction books, including one that documents the then-current whereabouts of every surviving B-29 (WWII bomber) and many stray parts, thereof. My father was a B-29 pilot, based in Guam, in WWII who flew 25 missions over Japan.
My brother, John, has worked for the local newspaper (in CT) since he graduated from college in the 1970s. He started as a stringer-reporter and eventually became Assistant City Editor until he contracted a still-unnamed illness. He’s now the Editorial Page Editor. Once, long ago, I asked him when he was going to write the ‘Great American Novel.’ He replied, “Give me something to write about and I’ll write it.” How very ‘newspaper-reporterly’ of him!
My brother, Charlie, makes a living as a copywriter in south Florida. He’s done work for a number of companies, large and small, and has earned the respect of many people for his skill. And, my sister also writes as the editor of her church newsletter.
So, long story short, writing ‘runs in the family,’ if that’s an inheritable trait.
Back in the late 1970s, I volunteered to write an article for “World Radio News” (San Diego, CA) per their request. The amateur radio club my husband and I were members of then had been contacted by the local March of Dimes to provide communications for their upcoming walkathon. ‘WRN’ wanted an article about that, hoping to encourage other clubs across the country to do the same. Pete took pictures and I wrote the article. The ‘WRN’ editor used my article exactly as I’d written it, and used 7 of Pete’s pictures.
About 20 years ago, I wrote a short story for a contest in the local newspaper but missed the deadline so it wasn’t considered. Recently, I found that story and expanded on it (the contest limit was 1000 words) and fixed a couple of problems. A writer-friend read the story and offered a few suggestions. Today, at 2000 words, it’s a great story. I hope to submit it somewhere soon.
In early 2002, I found myself between jobs, so I set out to create some time to write. I went to school to get my security officer’s license and went to work, third shift, as a gate guard at exclusive communities. In my time as a security officer, I wrote an adult romance novel with a little time travel. When it was complete, I put it away and found myself a day job in my field. Recently, the WIP came off the shelf and several Twitter friends have helped me make it SO MUCH BETTER. My manuscript has now been professionally edited twice and is ready for submission.
In 2009, I started a Twitter account, then hunted for people who shared my many interests. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was gravitating towards folks in the publishing world, so I pretty much abandoned the original account and started @Writers_Cafe. Since starting @Writer’s_Cafe, I have learned so much! I have hundreds of articles/blogs bookmarked, hundreds more printed and in large 3-ring binders. There is so much one can learn from over 12,000 followers!
I penned an article about @RileyCarney, a 18-year old, very prolific author from Colorado who heads her own non-profit literacy project. While the article about Riley was never published, countless people have seen it, thanks to the retweet function on Twitter, plus some carefully chosen email inboxes.
On New Year’s Day, 2010, I went ‘live’ with this blog. It has evolved into a combination of chronicling my writers journey and posts that offer help to other writers. My most popular post to date is ‘Writing Sex Scenes.’ I’ve also posted a 7-part ‘interview’ with the two main characters in ‘Janelle’s Time.’
See my archived post ‘Janelle’s Time Logan Excerpts’ to meet Logan Conor, a 19th century Scots Duke who makes his own rules. Picture Fabio with red hair and an attitude – that’s Logan. His job, in ‘Janelle’s Time,’ is to crash her wedding and make a huge scene. He does a really good job of that, until Rachel crashes his life.
After writing him into ‘Janelle’s Time,’ Logan got in my face, demanding his own book. He was relentless. After careful consideration, and a lot of pressure from Logan, I decided that my next project is a book for Logan. I’m happy to say that now that ‘Janelle’s Time’ is complete, I’ve started writing ‘Logan’s Time.’ My brain is just bursting with ideas for this book so it’s a very exciting time for me.
Rather than start at the beginning, I opted to start with the parts of ‘Logan’s Time’ that are shared with ‘Janelle’s Time’ (the wedding, and other scenes) because the point of view needs to be changed. Once those common sections are complete, then I’ll go back and start at the beginning with Logan. He, at the age of seven, will witness the birth of his brother, Daniel. When that odious chore is complete, Logan’s mother announces that she has now provided Logan’s father with ‘an heir and a spare’ so the Duke will not do THAT to her again. Then, she moves herself and her staff to the South Tower of the castle and begins her new life – without the Duke or her sons.
After ‘Logan’s Time’ (a spinoff), my next project will be a sequel to ‘Janelle’s Time.’ I plan to do the sequel for NaNoWriMo in November, then finish it in the following months. I will submit it before I submit ‘Logan’s Time’ to make some sense of the book order. Once those two books are complete, Book 4 of the series is next. It’s about Adelle and Moria, Janelle’s twin daughters. The girls are just infants in ‘Janelle’s Time’ but as grownups, they will make their mark on the world – especially Moria, as is seen in the ending to ‘Janelle’s Time.’ (*Note: I’ve changed my mind about the order of the books – see below.)
Writers who have influenced me:
Bertrice Small (Queen of Erotic Romance).
Diana Gabaldon (epic stories)
Karen Marie Moning and Lynn Kurland (time travel)
Jean Auel (the ‘alpha-female’ concept)
John Jakes, Victoria Holt, and many others.
Personally, aside from my writing, there isn’t much to tell. I’m like a lot of writers – quiet, reclusive, an introvert and totally OK with being home by myself – just my computer and me. I have many interests, but reading and writing have always been very high on my list. I follow a number of current events issues on my Facebook account, along with writers, publishers, and others in the publishing realm.
I married my husband, Pete, over 43 years ago – no kids, only a cat. From Massachusetts, we moved to New Hampshire for eleven years, then moved to Naples, FL in 1992. In 2004, we moved to Sebring. Then, in June of 2011, we moved back to Naples.
Right after I did the last update, I submitted ‘Janelle’s Time’ to an Indie publisher but, based on the kinds of books this publisher (a high school classmate of my husbands back in Massachusetts) had done to date, I figured it was long odds at best. An author already published there encouraged me to submit as Phil likes a good story well written and doesn’t stick to particular genres.
The day I submitted ‘Janelle’s Time,’ I started ‘Logan’s Time’ in earnest. I had to do something to distract myself from the fact that I’d, essentially, sent my ‘child’ out into the world that day, for better or for worse. With the long odds, it seemed almost cruel to do that to my baby, but I had to start somewhere and the experience plus any feedback from Phil would be invaluable when I submitted ‘Janelle’s Time’ again. I began to investigate my options for when I was rejected.
Work on ‘Logan’s Time’ was slow to get off the ground for the amount of research and other non-writing work I needed to do. I searched for and found the perfect place for Logan’s home, Muileach Castle, in the western islands of the Scots Highlands. I then ‘built’ a castle on that land. My husband, a former draftsman, is putting the castle on paper from my verbal description. After that, a friend, an architect, may attempt to create an elevation drawing from Pete’s ‘floor plan.’
Other research includes discovering a ship for Logan’s family that could have served as a pirate vessel, as well as a family vessel for transporting goods to and from markets. All this, over and above creating a family and a life before ‘Janelle’s Time’ for Logan. It’s been a fantastic journey so far and I know ‘Logan’s Time’ will be better than ‘Janelle’s Time’ when I’m done. As of today, 10/17/11, the rough draft is about half done. I’ll be taking a break from Logan’s book to prepare for NaNoWriMo when I’ll write the sequel to ‘Janelle’s Time,’ as yet untitled.
On October 1st, I was totally blown away with a contract to publish ‘Janelle’s Time.’ When the email came . . . “Hi Julie, Are you ready for a contract? Phil” . . . I went into shock! Just like that, my life changed forever. Finally, the realization of my life-long dream, thanks to All Things That Matter Press in Somerville, ME. Thanks, Phil and Deb, and associates.
Since then, I’ve been working on ‘Logan’s Time’ and meeting other authors at ATTMP. It’s a whole new world and I’m loving every minute of it.
Update: 12/31/2011 – Because my ‘real name’ is that of a character in the Broadway play ‘Carousel’ (Julie Jordan), I have decided on a pen name – Dayna Leigh Cheser, and have started a fan page on Facebook. In the right column of my blog, you can find a link to that page. I invite you to go there and ‘LIKE’ the page. I’ll be doing a contest shortly, with books as prizes, so if that’s interesting to you, stop by and check it out!
‘Janelle’s Time,’ now Book 1 of my ‘TIME Series,’ has grown to four books. The second book, now titled ‘Moria’s Time,’ was my NaNoWriMo project for 2011. I reached 51,000 words on November 26!! This book is Moria’s story from infancy. Because of a ‘vision’ (see the end of ‘Janelle’s Time’ and the beginning of ‘Moria’s Time’), everyone knows Moria will grow up to be someone very special. As a teen, she meets Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the US, and the UK. Miss Blackwell, a real historical figure, mentors Moria in her quest to become a doctor. Along the way, Moria meets other real historical figures, notably: Frederick Douglass, Florence Nightingale, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But, it’s Florence Nightingale who has a major effect on Moria’s life. Moria finds herself in great danger – and in love. Will Moria and her lover survive the danger? Will their love survive Moria’s life in service to others?
I discovered, in ‘Moria’s Time,’ that writing using real historical people is a real challenge! You must build YOUR story around THEIR lives to the best of your ability because there is a trail of where they were, why they were there and when that you must adhere to be as historically accurate as possible. Fortunately, I love a good challenge!
Book 3, still totally in my head, will be ‘Adelle’s Time.’ Adelle, Moria’s twin, couldn’t be any more different from her sister. Where Moria lives in service to others, Adelle wants only to be an English Lady, and she’ll stop at nothing to accomplish that goal. Her English grandparents, the former Duke and Duchess of Devonwood, provide the contacts and the means, but Adelle must find her own way. Will she be happy as an English Duchess? Or will she eventually find her way home to her native America?
Book 4 is ‘Logan’s Time.’ I’m eager to get back to Logan’s book if for no other reason than to get Logan off my back! He’s always here, in my face. But, it doesn’t make sense, chronologically, to release ‘Logan’s Time’ ahead of the other books. Logan’s book, however, will be the best of all of them. Logan’s mother abandons her husband and two sons and moves herself and her staff into the South Tower of Muileach Castle, sealing the castle against all visitors. This situation continues for several years, but upon the death of her father, she’s released from the terms of their ‘deal’ (blackmail) and finally flees Muileach Castle. Logan’s father, spends his life missing his arranged-marriage wife. When she flees, he searches for her, finally finding her in the south of France with the man she was already in love with when she married Logan’s father, under duress. He renounces his title, which then passes to Logan, and leaves Muileach Castle to join his wife.
Logan meets Richard Grayson (from ‘Janelle’s Time’) at school, followed by what was conceived as a celebratory year in Paris. Things go badly and their friendship hits the rocks. They don’t meet again until Richard and Janelle’s wedding (‘Janelle’s Time’). There, Logan meets Rachel and marries her immediately. Eventually, Logan takes Rachel to Muileach Castle where she must contend with Seanna, Logan’s childhood friend and sometimes lover. Will Logan make peace with his mother? Will Logan and Rachel live happily ever after, or will Seanna destroy their marriage?
AND, while all this is happening, I’m also donning my ‘marketing hat’ to help the sales of ‘Janelle’s Time.’ This book MUST be successful, or the fate of the other three books is in question . . .
I’ve added ‘DIY Interviews’ to my blog (see the left column of my blog for details on how you can do your own interview). The submission form comes to me via email. I process it and it becomes a blog post. After it’s appeared as a post, I then add that author’s name and shortlink to the DIY Interviews Archive page for anyone to see at any time. Several authors have submitted ‘interviews’ so far, and I’m hoping more will take advantage of it as time goes on.
Til next time, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!